Since 2018 Informed Solutions' Skills Outreach team has focused on providing digital skills learning and development opportunities for people living in local communities wherever we operate. Here we take a look at some of the recent work our team has done in partnership with Manchester Digital and The Prince's Trust to help young people in the North West explore digital skills and potentially rewarding career paths in tech.
Ever since 1992 Informed Solutions has been committed to supporting and giving back to communities wherever it operated, whether that was Stockport in the early years, or now from our headquarters in Altrincham, Greater Manchester and wider operating centres in London, Edinburgh, and Australia.
A key focus area in meeting our social value commitments is our skills development and community outreach programmes. In working to meet these commitments, the Informed Solutions Skills Outreach team was created in 2018 as a dedicated working group that uses Informed’s expertise in digital to inspire, support, and empower young individuals to get into tech.
Collaborating to develop community digital skills
Skills Outreach has worked in close collaboration with Manchester Digital, a body representing Manchester’s tech and digital sector, and The Prince’s Trust, a charitable organisation that works to ensure young, vulnerable individuals develop new skills and receive training and support to ensure they reach their full potential.
As part of this partnership, the team has delivered careers clinics for students based in Wigan, which helped to de-bunk common myths and perceptions of the tech industry, whilst providing an overview of the career opportunities in digital and data sciences (including artificial intelligence and machine learning). The sessions gave students a taste of what the IT sector has to offer, helping them understand the kind of skills, aptitudes, and training that would lead to successful careers in digital.
The team has also worked with Manchester Digital, Manchester Metropolitan University, and The Coding Institute to conduct mock interviews with graduates, supporting participants in building their self-confidence and offering detailed insights and guidance on effective communication through the interview process.
These partnerships have allowed the team to connect with individuals across a wide range of backgrounds and ages. The local collaboration enables the team to scale its outreach activity and reach a larger number of individuals in Manchester and the wider North-West.
Sharing important insights into the world of tech
Most recently, Skills Outreach members Sarah Swallow and Jamie Cooper Hockey worked with Xaverian Sixth Form College in Manchester to deliver an interactive workshop to students on the scope of opportunities open to them within the digital industry, whilst also giving an overview of roles including user research (UR) and some background on their own individual journeys into the tech sector.
The session also allowed the students to apply their learning through UR related activities and exercises, encouraging them to explore their interest in a more practical manner.
An important message we stress as part of our sessions is that not all tech and digital careers require technical skills as an entry criteria. Our team comprises of diverse individuals with diverse backgrounds and qualifications. Within our team we have English graduates, languages graduates, those with history and politics degrees, geography degrees to name just a few. There really are opportunities for all in this sector. It’s about explaining the different roots to careers that provides real value for young people to make choices about paths towards careers in digital.
What’s next for our Skills Outreach team?
Skills Outreach is aiming to scale out its work, learn from our activities so far and continue helping those, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds gain an understanding of what employment in tech might look like. A major part of our effort is supporting young people to develop their soft skills, which includes communication and teamwork. Being able to effectively communicate and collaborate are major elements in developing and increasing self-confidence, which will ultimately improve their chances of getting onto the first steps of a career journey in digital (or indeed whatever sector they choose).